What it is

Aspera is a forty-day spiritual exercise for women’s small groups that includes prayers, precepts, and practices to help you draw closer to Christ this Lent.

What inspired it

After several live-ins with Religious communities, Nicole (@thefastingcatholic) embarked on creating a program for laywomen inspired by the balance of daily prayer, simplified living, and sisterhood found in community life. While Aspera doesn’t mirror the daily life of a Religious, it will help get you going on an intentional path this Lent.

What you’ll need

Miraculous Medal
2-5 girlfriends
Chapel veil (optional)



Latin, n.

1. thorns

2. uneven, rough, harsh landscape

3. adversity, difficulties

True progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice.
— St. Francis de Sales




  • Reflect on daily Mass Gospel (15 m.)

  • Pray Rosary (15 m.)

  • Spiritual reading (10 m.)

  • Nightly Examen (5 m.)


  • Sunday Mass

  • Daily Mass (Add 1+ per week)

  • Holy Hour or Stations of the Cross


  • Bi-weekly Confession (every 2 weeks)


  • Wear Miraculous Medal

  • Wear chapel veil (optional)



  • Abstain from desserts and sweets

  • Abstain from alcohol

  • Abstain from soda/sweet drinks

  • Abstain from all media containing: intense suggestive dialogue, coarse/crude language, gossip, explicit violence, sexual situations, nudity.

Examples of this would be: The Bachelor/Bachelorette, TMZ, most Top 40 music, US Weekly/Life&Style etc.

  • Limit shower time (approx. 7-10 m.)

  • Full nights of sleep (7+ hrs. nightly recommended)


  • Abstain from meat every Wednesday and Friday



Choose 1 of the below to do for 20 minutes. Choose the same each day or switch things up. It’s up to you!

  • 20 m. exercise (running, dancing, archery, etc.)

  • 20 min. cleaning (house, car, desk drawers, etc.)

  • 20 min. hobby (instrument, painting, knitting, etc.)

  • 20 min. manual labor (shoveling snow, weeding, building something, etc.)

  • 20 min. non-online reading/writing (novel, journal, etc.)


  • Small group meet-up (60 m.)


  • Meet with a Spiritual Director

Meeting with a good and holy Priest is prudent when taking on any kind of spiritual exercise. Spiritual exercises are not one-size-fits-all, and an outside perspective from a Priest is always a good idea.

Small Group Discussion

You and your small group will meet once a week for about an hour to foster a community of prayerful sisterhood. Prior to meeting, take some time to reflect on the questions below and use them to start a discussion when you meet.

Opening Prayer

A Lenten prayer from St. Ephrem, Doctor of the Church (c. 373)

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despondency, lust of power, and idle talk; [pause 3 seconds]

But grant rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to thy servant. [pause 3 seconds]

O Lord, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brothers and sisters; for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages.


Discussion Questions

  • What was difficult for you this week?

  • What surprised you this week?

  • Where did God show up in your life?

  • What are your hopes for next week?

  • How can we pray for you?

Closing Prayer


Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.